John S. Andrews, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Public Health Service
U. S. Department Of Health and Human Services
Subcommittee On Hospitals and Health Care
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
September 16, 1992
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I am Dr. John Andrews, Associate Administrator for Science for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry within the Public Health Service. I am accompanied by Dr. Henry Falk, Director of the Division of Environmental Hazard and Health Effects of the National Center for Environmental Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Dr. Paul Seligman, Chief of the Medical Surveillance Section within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, also of CDC.
During a second visit to Kuwait in October 1991, Dr. Etzel conducted a cross-sectional study of exposure to 33 volatile organic compounds among American fire fighters. Dr. Etzel visited an area where fire fighters gathered for meals at the end of the day, and recruited volunteers for this study. Samples of blood from 40 fire fighters, typically within two hours after they left the oil fields, were collected and analyzed by the CDC laboratory. Compared to a sample of 114 U.S. residents, these fire fighters had higher blood concentrations of ethylbenzene, benzene, xylene, styrene and toluene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,2-dichloropropane, and tetrachloroethylene. However, due to the short half-life of these chemicals in the blood, tests carried out at one point in time cannot be used to predict long-term health effects.